Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers stays low-tech crafting high-impact plays

Feb. 2, 2011
The Insiders: Season 4, episode 22
The Insiders: Season 4, episode 22: Miller High Life Guy Windell Middlebrooks joins the The Insiders during Super Bowl XLV week. Is Rob threatened?
Green Bay Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk and defensive coordinator Dom Capers during practice in the Don Hutson Center, Friday, January 28, 2011. / H. Marc Larson/Press-Gazette

IRVING, Texas – Darren Perry doesn’t know how many of them actually exist, but the Green Bay Packers safeties coaches knows he's lucky to have one of the original playbooks designed by Dom Capers and Dick LeBeau.

How does Perry know it’s an original?

“If it’s a new book, you can tell because it’s typed,” Perry said. “If you get an original, it’s handwritten. They weren’t using computers back then.”

Capers isn’t using one now, either.

He still designs plays on pen and paper and collects them in five-inch binders.

The book Perry has is entitled “Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2003 playbook” – he was an assistant with the Steelers from 2003-06 – but he says little has changed in the book that’s between 750 and 900 pages, depending on who you ask. The bible of the 3-4 defense that Capers and LeBeau wrote together when they were Steelers’ assistants together from 1992-94 remains in use this week, when the Packers and Steelers meet in Super Bowl XLV with the 60-year-old Capers calling the Packers’ defensive plays and the 73-year-old LeBeau doing the same for the Steelers.

Strange, though, that perhaps the two most innovative guys in the game remain largely computer illiterate.

Everywhere Capers goes, he hauls his boxes of binders.

“That’s why when I move, it normally takes me about 10 boxes to move my notebooks,” Capers said. “These young guys have it all on a computer chip.”

Presumable, Capers means a USB-compatible flash drive. But Capers wouldn’t know a flash drive from a flashlight. For that, he has Scott McCurley, the Packers’ 30-year-old defensive quality control assistant. Every morning, McCurley fires up the computer in Capers’ office and loads whatever film he wants to watch, so all Capers has to do is point and click to make plays appear. And what Capers sees on film ends up on paper before it goes back to electronic form to be distributed the rest of the players and coaches.

Capers calls McCurley his “computer guy.”

“I guess through the years he’s had somebody every step of the way to take care of his computer stuff,” McCurley said. “He knows what he likes to do, and that’s the way he does it.”

Every now and then one of Capers’ staff members will pull out one of the old playbooks, whether it’s an original or one that’s been loaded onto a computer and printed out.

“There may be times you want to go back and refer to that because sometimes over the course of time you don’t understand why some things are the way they are,” Perry said. “And you go back and maybe they had this rule when it was first put in, but we had to change it because maybe an offense ran a certain play, and it wasn’t any good, or they’re finding ways to beat this particular defense.

“I keep it. I call it my bible.”

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